Since that 2012 season ended and the Reds lost to the Giants in game five of the NLDS in Cincinnati after being up two games to zero on the eventual World Champion Giants, I have really been in a deep and dark depression as a Reds fan.
Some people might get really down on me for saying that – they’ll point to when the Reds were running out Jose Acevedo or Jimmy Haynes or Brandon Claussen as starting pitchers and were a losing team and tell me how good we have it now. How we’ve ‘made the playoffs’ three out of the last four years.
But there’s something that kills you about watching a team evolve from the abyss into what you know is a core’s window – and make no mistake – the last two seasons were the peak of this current group’s window. It didn’t ever hurt like that (like this) back when we were so horrible. It has taken me the entire offseason just to get some feeling back in me after the way we went out. To be fully honest, I’m still not over that 2012 afternoon that Buster Posey hit the grandslam off Mat Latos. I’ve never felt anything like that in a lifetime of watching sports. I don’t know if I’ll ever really get over it. It was like dealing with a death.
It’s made it increasingly tough to write about the Reds. Their passive offseason this year really did nothing to dispel that. If anything, it just made me a little bit apathetic towards their upcoming season. You look at their lineup, and there’s still some thunder. There are things you can find a positive in. If their pitching staff doesn’t have any injury, it features some phenomenal arms.
But this is largely the same group that couldn’t get it done the last few seasons. Something is missing. If I could tell you what that something was I would be doing a lot more than just writing about the Reds; it’s like the million-dollar question. I think the Reds needed Aroldis Chapman to develop into a top of the rotation starter that they could roll out in a must win game in the playoffs. A Randy Johnson type figure who the opposition knows is simply going to always beat them. Someone to get Mike Leake out of there. A lot of guys could close for this team. Few guys in the league strike fear into a lineup like Chapman could as a starter. But that’s never going to happen now.
Maybe that something is a real heart and soul leader. Someone who keeps Brandon Phillips in line. As much as I like Phililps, I’m starting to wonder if he’s not a little bit of a cancer in the locker room. I wouldn’t have cared if the Reds decided to part with him – but almost sheepishly they made the choice to bring him back. And along with that, they brought back the entire group that has failed to win the big one year after year. That’s concerning. You keep banging your head against the same wall long enough, all you’re going to get is a headache. The only thing different is the manager, and Bryan Price isn’t even a new voice. It’s not a shake-up. Everyone else got better, and at best the Reds stayed the same.